by Randa Abdel-Fattah. Scholastic Press, 2017. ISBN 978-1338118668. Click here to purchase.
Michael and Mina are 11th graders in Sydney, Australia. Michael is White; Mina is from Afghanistan. One day Michael spots Mina at an anti-immigrant rally (his father is a leader of the far-right “Aussie Values” group; she is a counterprotester with a sign reading, It’s Not Illegal to Seek Asylum). Soon thereafter Mina appears in Michael’s class at ultra-posh Victoria College. At first Michael and Mina are at odds, with Michael spouting out things he’s heard from his folks (of his beliefs, Michael says, “I wear my politics like hand-me-down clothes: Some bits feel like they don’t fit properly, but I expect I’ll grow into them, trusting that because they’re from my parents they’ve come from a good source”) and Mina understandably taking offense. But Michael and Mina grow closer, eventually bonding over their love of indie music and school assignments. They begin to develop complicated and strong feelings for each other. Bit by bit, Michael begins to discard articles of the “hand-me-down clothes” he inherited from his ultra-conservative parents, and he and Mina fall in love.
The Lines We Cross would be a great title for high school literature circles – the format, the plot and characters, and the timely topic would make for great discussion. Don't sleep on this one.
Reviewed by Sam Bloom